Olympic gold is gilded

Editor expresses opinion of the Sochi Olympic games.


Courtesy of Mark Reis

Members of the Bolshoi and Marlinski ballet companies take part in the Closing Ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Closing Ceremony was on Feb. 23.

Justin Hawkins, Opinion Editor

Athletic excellence, national pride, and corruption. Underneath the surface of the Olympic Games, there is a whole world of politics and dishonesty.

According to a CNN article, the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games cost the Russian Federation over $50 billion, a record for any Olympic Games. The games were supposed to cost $12 billion. Where did all this money go?

In truth, we have no clue. I would hope that the money was put towards creating one of the greatest Winter Olympic Games ever. However, a Breitbart article estimated that up to one-third of that $50 billion was spent inappropriately.

Most of the costs associated with hosting the Olympic Games come from construction. The host country must construct the necessary stadiums, hotels, and infrastructure.

However, construction is one of the world’s most corrupt businesses, especially concerning massive projects such as the Olympic Games.

“A small number of people at the top have control of resources, and there’s no accountability [for those resources], ” Stefan Szymanski, a sports economist at the University of Michigan, said in a Businessweek article.

Large-scale projects are particularly prone to corruption for two reasons. First, there are few similar projects to serve as points of comparison. Second, going over budget can easily be concealed, especially with the massive budget needed to build the Olympic stadiums and courses.

If a country builds a road, it has a good estimate of the road’s cost, as other roads have been built before. In the case of these Olympic projects, there is no standard to compare the new projects to because they are all unique.

According to the same Businessweek article, Arbaby Rotenberg, a childhood friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was given at least 21 Olympic construction contracts worth an estimated $7.4 billion. This is clear favoritism: Putin, a corrupt politician, rewards his friends with government contracts.

Sochi is a vacation resort where Russians go to escape the winter. According to a representative of Putin, the games were held in Sochi because Putin likes the city. He even happens to have a palace there, just like Stalin did. There average temperature in Sochi is a warm 50 degrees, not very conducive for a winter games.

German filmmaker Simone Baumann made a documentary called “Putin’s Games” about the corruption of the games that will be screened in Russia in December 2014. In the documentary, a building contractor was told that he would be “drowned in blood” if he did not pay 50 percent of his building contracts in kickbacks to the Russian government.

According to a Business Insider article, Russian authorities offered Baumann three times the amount it cost to make the film as an  incentive not to release the film

When the games started on Feb. 7, several publications, including the Washington Post, Fox News Insider, and Business Insider, reported that multiple expensive building projects had not yet been completed. There were stories of sinks that spewed muddy water and had walls that were falling apart. You would think that over $50 billion and almost seven years of preparation  would be enough time to build these essential structures for the Olympics.

 Justin Hawkins is an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.